Starting in the early 1940s, the government exposed unsuspecting citizens to radioactive elements in order to study their effects, as a part of the Manhattan Project. They injected 18 people with plutonium, gave more than 800 pregnant women vitamins that contained radioactive iron, and gave 73 Massachusetts disabled children radioactive oatmeal.
Reporter Eileen Welsome from the Albuquerque Tribune helped discover the names of 18 of those injected back in the early 1990s. While looking up records about radioactive animal dumps at a local air force base, Welsome discovered that the government had injected 18 people with plutonium because it was nestled in a footnote in one of the files. One man, Elmer Allen (codenamed Cal-3), was 36-year-old African American who had his left leg amputated three days after he had plutonium injected into his calf. Even though Allen didn't know exactly what was happening, he knew something was up because all of the doctors who were coming in and out of his room. "They guinea-pigged me," he reportedly said before he died.
The program was to supposed be halted in 1946, but it continued until the end of 1947 when the Atomic Energy Commission recommended that they tell patients they would be injected with a mysterious "new substance" to fight cancer. After some of the patients died, they were dug up for more tests during the following years. When an investigation was conducted in the 1970s, all of the surviving patients were informed of what happened to them, except one. Doctors said she was too emotionally unstable to be told what happened to her.